Maybe you’re in an exam with too many unwritten words and not enough microseconds. Or your current/prospective employer has just thrown you such a curve-ball of a question that if you don’t catch it just right, you’re liable to get whacked into geosynchronous orbit. Or maybe you need to finish that cover letter or assignment or essay two minutes ago, because that was when the electronic submission box closed. Sometimes, no time is more than you have. You (hopefully) won’t use these too often, but here are some tips to help you write really really REALLY fast (and think even faster):
- Pause. That’s right. Even when you can’t afford to, take the time to think and plan what you want to write (or say). Come up with a brief structure in your head, and maybe one or two examples. This should take you five, ten seconds at most. If not, look at yourself in the mirror and answering the insecurities which spring into your head as quickly as possible. That should give you ample practice material.
- Speed-writing. The more you write, the better you get. To practice your quick-draw, sit at your desk and take in your surrounds. What’s the first thing you think of? Oranges? Good. Write for a minute about oranges. If you don’t reach 200 words, slap yourself and try again. Repeat. Like speed-dating, but more productive and sadomasochistic at the same time.
- Don’t talk smack. Cut out weasel words, jargon, and anything longer than 3 syllables. Trying to buy yourself time with obfuscation and verbal fluff is akin to cementing a wall together using fecal matter: sooner or later, your shit’s going to fall apart. Write or speak plainly and with honesty. If you don’t know, say so.
- Stay consistent. What’s the one thing you simply have to say? Got it? Now say it, and keep saying it. Don’t lose sight of your single message – it’s probably all you have time to offer up anyway. If you’ve done 1 and 3, this should be easy: the less you write, the more consistent you’ll sound.
- Own it. Write with gravitas. Speak with confidence. Most people will care less about what you say and more about how you say it. And an articulate, clear fool can carry the day far better than a mute genius. If you sound like you know what you’re talking about, people will think you do. This blog is a good example.
In brief: Clean up your mind, and you’ll write faster. Planning, structure and plain diction will help you know more quickly what you have to say. And then you’ll be able to say it.